Innovation in Agriculture: the Netherlands

National Geographic Magazine has provided a fascinating look at innovation in agriculture in the Netherlands. The author notes that the Netherlands is a small, densely populated country that lacks nearly every resource long thought to be necessary for large-scale agriculture. Despite this, it is the number two exporter of food in the world (measured by value), second only to the United States (with 270 times the land mass). Since 2000, Dutch farmers have reduced their dependence on water for key crops by as much as 90 per cent, while nearly eliminating use of chemical pesticides in plants greenhouses, and cutting use of antibiotics for livestock and poultry by as much as 60 per cent. These outcomes are described in the article as the result of an effort launched in the Netherlands two decades ago to produce “Twice as much food using half as many resources”. The piece describes the beneficial connections between Dutch academic institutions and industry in the agricultural sector, propelling innovation and its application forward, and notes the value generated from global R&D collaborations involving Dutch researchers (with vignettes featuring certain collaborative projects).